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Mike Gorun

Mike Gorun Managing Partner/CEO

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When It Comes to Customers Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

Almost every salesperson or manager that’s been in the business for a while has a story to tell where someone – perhaps even themselves – prejudged a customer and lost a sale. Perhaps that sale was lost to another salesperson at the dealership, or perhaps the dealership lost the sale altogether. But it has happened and still continues.  

Here are a few examples: 

  1. According to a recent story on Jalopnik, a man went into a Porsche dealership to inquire about some models. The sales reps proceeded to treat him quite rudely, refusing to answer simple questions about a particular high-end model. A little later one sales rep searched the customer online and found a Forbes article about the young man. Of course, by this time, they had laughed at him, refused to answer his questions and he left.  
  2. A couple arrived at an Infiniti dealership in a beat-up Toyota Corolla that had the driver’s side door held closed with baling wire. They were both dressed in ragged clothes that appeared to be dirty. Most of the salespeople immediately scattered, attempting to find something to do other than assist this couple. However, one salesperson chose to ignore their appearance and assisted them. Turns out the couple were very successful farmers and bought two new Q45s that day. When the salesperson asked about the Corolla, the couple said that it had just been sitting on their property and they wanted to get rid of it.  
  3. A gentleman drove up to a high-line dealership in a PT Cruiser. He was dressed in blue jean shorts, a black shirt, and thigh-high boots and had tattoos everywhere. None of the salespeople wanted to assist this customer, but one young sales rep greeted him. The gentleman custom ordered a brand-new vehicle that day and turned out to be the lead guitarist in a popular rock band that has entertained crowds for decades.  

These are just a few examples I’ve heard about and/or read. The point is that you never know how qualified that person pulling into your lot is until you talk to them. By ignoring them, or treating them poorly based on how they look, you do much more than lose a sale, you damage the reputation of the dealership.  

For example, the first story got picked up by Jalopnik because the young man shared his experience on Facebook and, at the time of this writing, it had 909 reactions, 196 comments and 91 shares. That’s quite an audience that read this story!  I’ll bet that someone who saw the story was considering buying a Porsche and perhaps reconsidered doing business with that dealership. Sadly, the comments are filled with car buyers telling stories about similar experiences that they’ve personally had.  

Treat every customer that walks into your showroom like gold and you will find that not only do you sell more cars, you also hold more gross. Special finance customers who you treat well and assist in financing will refer their friends to your dealership and tell everyone they know. By ceasing to judge people, you bring goodwill and a better customer experience to everyone. Even if they can’t buy a vehicle right then, they will remember you when they can.  

Do you have any stories of similar experiences at a dealership when it comes to pre-judging customers? Share them in the comments.

This is a great reminder to salespeople and all dealership personnel that each and every customer is unique and different just like we are. You never know who you are talking to, and if they take the time to drive onto your lot they deserve respect regardless of how they choose to present themselves.

I remember one day when I was selling furniture years ago an older gentleman came into the store dressed ragged and looked like he was dead broke. He wanted to look at recliners and some other furnishings for his home. This gentleman picked out a few thousand dollars of furniture and told me he would be back to pay me in an hour or so, he just had to go get some cash from home. He came back a little later with some soggy bills and paid for his order in cash as he promised. 

As he left the store one of my co-workers who grew up on a dairy farm came up to me and said "Hey, do you know who that was?"  I said yeah that was so and so... he said no, that was the largest dairy farmer in the state of Maine. This guy could buy anything he wanted even though he looked like a homeless person. Great reality check for me as a young salesman and something I have never forgotten.

By the way, the bills were soggy because he literally dug them up from a can in his back yard!! :-) That's old school!

Kevin  Root

Humility is an essential quality for a salesperson, especially when it comes to word-of-mouth and building a clientele.

Imagine if one person had stepped out and helped the gentleman in the first story. Instead of an angry Facebook post that went viral, the gentleman could have shared a post praising the one salesperson who helped him. And just like that, new clients emerge.

Thanks for the reminder to stay humble when selling vehicles! It's something we all need to hear time and again.

Mike Gorun

Thanks for the kind words, gentlemen!

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